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The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
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Rockin’ Design

If you’re looking for it, inspiration for future designs can come from anything — be it a rousing color combination from a candy wrapper or awe-inspiring geometric patterns in the windows of a somewhat famous house that you might walk past on the way to work.

The most regular source of design inspiration for me is music — but not just the clever lyrics and pulsing beats. No, it’s not the actual tunes but the good old album cover designs that make me experiment with new layouts, color combos, and illustration techniques.

To get inspired without flipping through your stack of CDs, visit Rolling Stone Magazine’s “50 Best Album Covers” Web site or take a spin through this offbeat collection of great album covers (and the “tributes” they inspired).

Of course, if you’re looking for more current trendsetting designs, the best resource is not the latest releases section of a major label’s Web site but indie labels like Kill Rock Stars or K Records. With limited budgets, indie cover art is often more experimental and creative. To make a cover look fresh, they don’t just throw in extra processes like foils and florescents — they actually just perfect their designs and try new things.

Some of my current favorites include: Little Wings’ Wonder What (great color); Sleater Kinney’s One Beat (strange but interesting illustration — like that seen on the new Red Hot Chili Peppers’ disc); and Midwest Product’s Specific (nice paper choice).

What album covers currently inspire you?

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.02.2002 BY joy olivia
Hrant’s comment is:

Shoutcast doesn't show any graphics... :-)

Actually, the only music I listen to nowadays is Trance (specifically Goa) and their covers tend to be juvenile (except for Space Tribe). But really, anything without lyrics has a chance with me - like classical. The only lyrics I can stand are the ones that act as sounds, not meanings, like with Soul Coughing.


On Oct.02.2002 at 04:53 PM
Armin’s comment is:

So, no N' Sync for you Hrant?

This may just be me who doesn't know, but what exactly is Soul Coughing?

On Oct.02.2002 at 06:31 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Just a [now-dead] band.

Another fav lyrics-as-sound band is dEUS, a tiny Belgian group, which *almost* got a gig at the Troubadour (on SM Blvd.) many years ago...


On Oct.02.2002 at 08:40 PM
Joy Olivia’s comment is:

Oye! I suppose if one prefers music without lyrics but will make exception for Soul Coughing, they're okay in my book -- both musically and in terms of design. (Didn't they have terrific art for both their lps and singles? The cover for Ruby Vroom is classic.)

Trance may not have the best innovative cover art, but I've seen some interesting things come from itfais.com's artists -- among others. Actually, the whole realm of electronic music and design fascinates me. I agree with Hrant in that there's gobs of juvenile stuff out there, but there's also lots of experimentation. I never miss the opportunity to grab up rave/party flyers because 1 out of 10 does something of note. But, I suppose this is a whole 'nother thread all-together.

Hyperreal has a great collection of past rave flyers online. It's worth a look.

On Oct.03.2002 at 07:45 AM
plain*clothes’s comment is:

well, for both early experimental designs and unmatched musical inspiration, check out the venerable Cabaret Voltaire. quite a few of their covers were done by a young Neville Brody. personally, I'm not a big fan of much of his work, but it was certainly a shift at the time. the music however is an amazing blend of noise, rythm, and vocals that actually become an integral part of the complex atmosphere and make a statement on their own.

On Oct.03.2002 at 03:05 PM
plain*clothes’s comment is:

for all you lazy searchers out there, here's a great CV link. be sure to explore the various eras (in the frame on the left).

On Oct.03.2002 at 03:11 PM